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EXHIBITIONS

“LANDMARK“ at Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, New York

Socrates Sculpture Park will usher in its 30th anniversary year with “LANDMARK”, a summer-long series of eight artist commissions that both physically and symbolically mark the land.

Once an industrial landfill and illegal dumping ground, the institution has transformed itself into New York City’s preeminent sculpture park and social space for public art, community engagement and urban discovery. Since its inception in 1986, Socrates Sculpture Park and the surrounding area of Long Island City, Queens has been subject to unprecedented social and ecological change. From Hank Willis Thomas’ billboard overlooking the entrance to a colossal earthwork by Meg Webster engaging directly with the land, each project probes the history of the park, while envisioning its future.

Anchored by a newly commissioned earthwork by Meg Webster, “LANDMARK” is comprised of eight works by Abigail DeVille, Brendan Fernandes, Cary Leibowitz, Jessica Segall, Casey Tang, Hank Willis Thomas, and the curatorial collective ARTPORT_making waves.

At 70-feet in diameter, Concave Room for Bees, a new earthwork by Meg Webster is a living sculptural installation that will evolve over time. Heavily influenced by the Land Art movement, Webster uses the earth as her canvas, incorporating natural materials such as dirt, rocks and flowers to physically transform the land itself. Part of what makes Webster’s artistic practice so distinct is she encourages visitors to engage with the ecosystem that she has created, relying on senses of sight, smell, touch and hearing. The circular earth bowl, comprising more than 400 cubic yards of fertile soil will be dispersed across the landscape, addressing the park’s urgent need for nutrient rich topsoil.

In addition to Concave Room for Bees by Meg Webster, “LANDMARK” projects will directly address the intricate interaction between human and environmental forces:

• A new work by Abigail DeVille utilizes found materials and simultaneously bears witness to and transforms public neglect, decay and marginalization. Resonating with the site’s historic role as ferry slip and landfill, as well as its new position in a post-industrial neighborhood, the sculpture will address issues of migration and immigration.

• Jessica Segall’s Fugue in B? is a salvaged piano harp turned into an observational musical beehive. As the active bee colony interacts with the piano chords, the piece becomes a sound installation, as well as an homage to nineteenth-century Astoria which was once a major industrial port and hub of piano manufacturing.

• Casey Tang’s Urban Forest Lab has grown into a self-sustaining entity over the years. Through successive plantings of different flora, the forest garden becomes a living repository of perennial vegetables, where visitors can explore various concepts of sustainability, as well as human relationships with nature, ecology, agriculture, and food.

• Housed in a shipping container is an anthology of the video series Cool Stories for When The Planet Gets Hot, presented by ARTPORT_making waves. Compiled from the organization’s biennial competitions of art videos that address climate change, these stories link the park’s local plot of land to the global dialogue surrounding climate change, stewardship and sustainability.

Elevated at the main entrance of the park is Hank Willis Thomas’ From Cain’t See in the Mornin’ Till Cain’t See at Night (from Strange Fruit), 2012, part of Socrates Sculpture Park’s Broadway Billboard series. Thomas’ striking billboard confronts the viewer head on as the first image the visitor sees upon entering the park, stimulating a dialogue on the relationship between land, labor, American history, and culture.

As part of “LANDMARK”, artists have also contributed subtle gestures or interventions that address the park’s social role within the community. Customized caution tape by Brendan Fernandes confounds an administrative mechanism, provoking questions about the language of authority and assumptions about borders and boundaries. Cary Leibowitz emblazons the park’s Bobcat loader with playful bumper stickers that undercut the seriousness of this prototypical emblem of masculinity.

Highlighting Socrates as both a social space and place for making, Open Seating is a series of open design chairs created by Jonathan Odom and painted by volunteers, staff and youth participants in the park’s education programs.

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at Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, New York
until 28 August 2016

Above, bottom – Brendan Fernandes, Marked Space, 2016

Abigail DeVille, Half Moon, 2016

Cary Leibowitz, Honk If U Love Socrates Sculpture Park, 2016

Hank Willis Thomas, From Cain’t See in the Mornin’ Till Cain’t See at Night, 2016

Meg Webster, Concave Room for Bees, “LANDMARK“ installation view at Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, New York, 2016

Meg Webster, Concave Room for Bees (detail), “LANDMARK“ installation view at Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, New York, 2016

Meg Webster, Concave Room for Bees (detail), “LANDMARK“ installation view at Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, New York, 2016

Meg Webster, Concave Room for Bees, “LANDMARK“ installation view at Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, New York, 2016

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